Another day, another boil order.
As the kids say, “I can’t even.”
Two things happened Saturday related to the Sewerage & Water Board.
First, I got a bill for $286 for a single month.
The typical U.S. family spends $2,060 on average per year for home utility bills, according to EnergyStar.gov, which includes electricity, gas, water, trash, recycling, cable, and Internet. When you combine our approximately $300/month Entergy bill with our water bill (which includes trash and recycling), which is now between $200 and $300 every month, we’re spending between $6,000 and $7,200 a year.
This is before you factor in car insurance and homeowners’ insurance, both of which are absurdly high here – for good reason, but still. My car insurance tripled when I moved from Missouri to New Orleans, and it’s hard to even find homeowners’ insurance anywhere along the Gulf Coast.
All of this would be acceptable, I guess, as the price you pay to not live in Iowa or whatever … but then you factor in what happened later in the day: a boil water advisory.
I didn’t even get an alert. I had noticed low water pressure in my home that afternoon, and that night, while I was buying Chapstick and ice cream at the CVS down the street, I spotted the people ahead of me and the people behind me and the people behind them all buying bottled water. A low siren started sounding in my head.
“Oh, for Pete’s sake,” I muttered. “Are we under a boil order?”
“Yep,” everyone chorused back, and then we all started cursing the Sewerage & Water Board.
I mostly ignored the boil order. I have that luxury. But my dear friend whose son was at Children’s Hospital because he is undergoing chemo and his immune function is low? She couldn’t ignore it. No one at Children’s Hospital could ignore it.
When the boil order was lifted early Monday morning, I was relieved but not surprised. The only real concession I’d made to the boil order was to brush my teeth with bottled water, so I brushed them with regular tap water and headed into work feeling chipper.
“Boil order canceled!” I texted my friend. “I’m sure you and everyone else at Children’s must be thrilled.”
Two hours later she texted back. “Not so fast, my friend. Boil order reissued.” A string of colorful emojis followed this.
“No way,” I thought. “No way we would have two boil orders so close together. Even the Sewerage & Water Board isn’t that bad.”
Hahaha, indeed they are.
My father is a staunch defender of the Sewerage & Water Board for some reason. Pure stubbornness? Loyalty to unpopular causes? I’m not sure, but every time I mention my frustration, he counters with, “But they have a very difficult job. Think of all of those pipes underground! Think of how dirty the water is by the time it comes all the way down the Mississippi! For years, the water bill was my lowest bill, and you can’t maintain the system with no money. Now the chickens are coming home to roost.”
And then I get angry and start yelling about how I don’t care what he paid for years; I care that I pay so much and they can’t even provide the basic standard of potable water.
This time, he didn’t even try to defend them. He just quietly dropped two cases of bottled water off on my porch.
I always end these posts the same way: This is home. I’m not going anywhere.
But when I’m paying more than $3,000 a year for the privilege of not having water I can even drink, I’m honestly not sure how much longer I can stay here.
How do we fix this? I don’t mind paying more if we have clean, drinkable water. I suppose I would be less annoyed by frequent boil orders if my water bill were closer to $100/month. But the one-two punch has me reeling, and I know I’m not the only one getting fed up.
Open safe space for venting in the comments below!